1st Edition

Psychoanalytic and Phenomenological Reflections on Masculinity

By Gunnar Karlsson Copyright 2023
    168 Pages
    by Routledge

    168 Pages
    by Routledge

    In this highly original volume, Gunnar Karlsson offers new answers to the question concerning the relationship between belonging to a specific sex as a male and striving for a masculine identity.

    This book offers a uniquely psychoanalytic and phenomenological perspective on masculinity. Karlsson considers masculinity and traditional masculine ideals through a psychoanalytic lens before taking phenomenological concepts to chisel out the relationship between sex and gender. This perspective is developed throughout the volume to inspire readers to further their understanding of traditional gender assignment – female, male and intersex – in light of gendered characteristics such as femininity and masculinity. Chapters span topics such as the characteristics of typical, so-called “phallic masculinity”, its allure and psychogenetic explanation, as well as looking at what phallic masculinity disregards. Throughout, Karlsson maintains that phallic masculinity is unattainable, as it seeks to escape the existential conditions of helplessness, vulnerability, and dependence. He makes the case for the importance of considering the notion of ego-identity in the field of sex/gender studies, encouraging a liberation from gender stereotypes.

    Psychoanalytic and Phenomenological Reflections on Masculinity will be of great interest to researchers, clinical psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, as well as anyone interested in masculinity, gender studies and the relationship between sex and gender.


    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.

    Introduction  1 The troublesome conceptual apparatus  2 Psychoanalytic theories about masculinity  3 Three forms of masculinity with a focus on phallic masculinity  4 The man's three challenges  5 Ego-identity and the possibility of emancipation  6 The character of care and what phallic masculinity neglects  7 Death as a most reliable counselor


    Gunnar Karlsson is a professor in the department of Education, Stockholm University, Sweden. He is a psychoanalyst and a psychotherapist, and has published widely on psychoanalysis and phenomenology.

    Praise for the Swedish edition:

    'First of all, I would like to express my admiration for Gunnar Karlsson's courage to tackle this difficult, complex, politically charged, and volatile subject. [---] The book contains interesting psychodynamic and phenomenological perspectives on the subject whose rich content cannot be done justice in a review. [---] I would like to thank Karlsson for a book filled with knowledge [---] The book is one of the most important entries in the psychodynamic gender debate in recent times and it should have a good chance to become a Swedish classic. [---] Gunnar Karlsson has given an extremely interesting and thought-provoking contribution to the important discussion about our gender identity.'

    Tomas Wånge, Psykoterapi [Psychotherapy]

    'Karlsson’s book is a major contribution to the psychoanalytic discussions on sexes and genders and especially on the challenges of being a man. I find especially important the way Karlsson emphatically makes the distinction between sex and gender, as two ontologically different kinds of structures, the former being something one is, the latter rather as a project [---] There is much to learn from his discussion, I think, and the book should be read not only by psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, but more broadly by people interested in gender questions.'

    Jussi Kotkavirta, The Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review